Grand Canyon Special Airspace | Flying the Grand Canyon

An online safety program about the Grand Canyon Special Airspace

Here's a neat program about the Grand Canyon Airspace.  It's a great 49 slide program greatly detailing all the information about the Grand Canyon Airspace. It explains all the altitudes, the GA corridors, and the FAR 93 requirement to monitor the specific frequencies. It's loaded with lots of pictures, charts, and even some basic video type effects. At the end, it allows you to print a certificate and qualifies as the classroom safety portion of the FAA Wings Program. This would be a really great review for any pilots that ever take trips in that direction.


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High Density Altitude Takeoff Tip

Flaps... more flaps does not equal more lift.

The other day I was at an FBO and I overheard a conversation between two pilots talking about flying to Denver in the summer.  The one pilot who had flew to Denver last summer was relaying his experience.  He was flying a 182 into Front Range Airport and said he had a heck of a time departing, because he couldn't get the plane off the ground.  Finally, after using over 6,000 feet of runway he lifted off was able to just barely get a climb going.

This pilot had stated that he couldn't understand how any aircraft could ever fly in or out of an airport like Leadville since he had so much trouble going to Denver.

I was intrigued by this conversation and decided to introduce myself as a pilot from Colorado and ask some questions.  It turns out the plane was loaded properly, well below gross, the pilot, his wife, and maybe 75-100 pounds of bags.  He had taken off into the wind of 7 kts.  The temp was 95, and that was a factor to the performance, but as I asked more questions the real problem became evident.  This pilot had used 20 degrees of flaps.  His thinking was that more was better, and a short field procedure of 10 degrees should be adapted to high altitude procedure of 20 degrees of flaps.  WRONG!

The reality of the situation is just the opposite.  Generally speaking, the first flap setting usually adds more lift than drag, the second, third or even forth flap settings on most aircraft add more drag than lift.  The better procedure would have been to use no flaps, or at the most use the 10 degree setting.

I explained that the 182 is a very capable machine, he just needed a different procedure.  I also explained that I had flown 150hp 172's to and from Leadville (not in 95 degree temps though).

So what is a good procedure for takeoff from a high altitude airport?  First we'll assume you have evaluated the wind, temp, aircraft performance, weight and balance and have concluded that the attempted takeoff is within the capabilities of the aircraft.

If that's the case then the procedure I like to use is to taxi into position using every available foot of runway, lock the brakes, engine to full power, and flaps in the up position (i'll get to using flaps in a second).  When you're ready for the takeoff run, release the brakes.  Once you get the aircraft in the air keep it close to the ground to use ground effect to accelerate (Ground effect is a reduction in drag caused by being close to the ground in flight).  Once airborne in the ground effect you may want to retract flaps if you had used them as well as landing gear.  As the plane accelerates past Vy then it will handle and climb better than if it were at or below Vy.

As you were doing the takeoff run, if you got to the 1/2 way point of the runway and you're not airborne or close to airborne then you can extend the first setting of flaps.  The benefit of doing this during the takeoff run is that the aircraft will initially accelerate faster without flaps.

Every aircraft is different, this procedure may not be correct for some aircraft, but this will work well for many small single and multi-engine aircraft.

Glenwood Springs Flying Club

Depending upon what your specific goals and plan is, joining the Glenwood Springs Flying club  may or may not be right for you.

Essentially, the club has about 15 members and 2 early 70's aircraft.  Both aircraft are Cherokee 235's.  The aircraft are older, and given the small number of users they are readily available.  Buying into this club (a 1/20th share)  is about $3000, and once you are a member you operate the aircraft for cost (roughly $120/hour fuel included), you'll also be responsible for monthly minimums, and quarterly fees.

Now the benefit of this club is that their aircraft, Cherokee 235's are very capable, and after you have your license then you'll have a plane to fly.

Unfortunately, many people join this club just to learn to fly, thinking that they can sell their membership later - very few ever do, finding a buyer for your membership if you want to get out of the club later is nearly impossible.

Now if your entire goal is to just learn to fly, and you're really not interested in owning an aircraft there are better avenues that will cost you less.

As an example, we rent our Diamond Katana DA-20-C1 Katana Evolution for $129 per hour, fuel included.  If you purchase in a 10 hour block you can rent the Katana for $119/hour.  As you can see, as a member of the club you'll be paying nearly $120 per hour to fly a 40 year old airplane, mean while you could be spending the same and flying a thirty year newer aircraft, and you didn't have to buy-in for $3000, and you don't have monthly minimums, and you don't have quarterly dues.

There are some other advantages learning in the Katana at Eagle - First, students in glenwood spend a good deal of time travelling to the larger runways of Eagle and Rifle to practice landings because student practice is difficult and time consuming at Glenwood Springs because of it's runway length and placement in the valley.  Learning at Eagle means you spend more time practicing and less time commuting to other airports.  The result is that your training time is less, and therefore the cost is less.  The second major advantage that the Katana provides is a simpler aircraft that is easier to learn in.  This means you get through your training faster as well.

If you're considering learning to fly, we would like to invite you to come out to Eagle airport and take a discovery/intro flight.  You'll have a chance to meet our instructors, fly the plane for an hour, see our training curriculum, and get all your questions answered.  We offer discovery flights that are 1 hour of flight time and 2 hours of instructor time for $199.00.  Call 970-401-5105 to schedule one today.

Fall Colors of the Colorado Rockies from the Air | Mountain Flying

Autumn is at it's peak in the next couple weeks, an ideal time to see the Rockies. I was up flying today in the Roaring Fork Valley, and boy the colors are amazing.  9 News said the colors are at peak next weekend.  This is a great time to fly the Colorado Rockies and see the beauty.  Here's a shot I got just south or Highway 82 in the Roaring Fork.  Eagle County Regional Airport is in the heart of the Colorado Rockies and is an excellent base to explore the rockies and see the fall colors.  If you've never flown in the mountains consider taking a trip to eagle and combine your trip with some mountain flight instruction.

Fall Colors


Cross Country Flying to Colorado Mountains

Take a quick 5 minute journey from Baltimore Maryland across the USA to the Colorado Rockies

I recently had the opportunity to reposition our Diamond DA-20 from Baltimore Maryland to the Colorado Rockies.  This is a neat little video, traveling over the mountains of Maryland and West Virginia, through Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado and right into the Colorado Rockies, ultimately landing in Eagle Colorado.

As the video progresses you'll see the air get clearer and clearer - the haze of the moisture layer from Missouri disappears as we get into Kansas. As we reach Colorado the air is crystal clear and the view is vibrant. The flight through the mountains is probably the best of the footage. As I crossed over Leadville, the density altitude at the field was 12,800, at 13,500 where we were cruising the density altitude as well over 16,000 feet.

If you have interest in flying through the Rockies as we did in this video then I suggest getting formal mountain flying training from a local company like Alpine Flight Training - 970-401-5105.

Renewing Your Pilot's License | Recurrent Flight Training in Eagle Colorado

The process to get flying again after you have been out of it for years.

Frequently I am asked what type of process is involved in getting back into flying after a person has been away for 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years or more. The process is surprisingly practical and straight forward.  Unlike the initial certification process, this process is entirely based on proficiency.

Perhaps you may have noticed, US pilot licenses are issued without expiration. This is different from driver's licenses and a source of confusion on the topic. Where as a driver's license needs to be renewed every couple years, the pilot's license does not need to be renewed, however the regulations do require the pilot to have had a flight review in the prior 24 months and be current in the category and class of aircraft in order to carry passengers. Additionally, a pilot is required to have a medical.

So as a flight instructor, how exactly do we help get a rusty pilot back into the air? Our strategy has always been to go back to reviewing the basics - we start just as we would start a new student. Straight and level, turns, climbs, descents. We move on to slow flight, stalls, ground reference maneuvers, and finally landings. Along the way, the communications skills come back naturally, as do navigation skills through the process of simply flying. On the ground we do a similar exercise, reviewing regulations, airspace, weather, performance, flight planning.

Ultimately the graduation from recurrent training occurs when the pilot has at a minimum demonstrated the basic skills we would expect from a freshly minted private pilot. We treat the final flight as a flight review consisting of 1 hour of ground and 1 hour of flight. As the instructor, we simply sign the logbook as a successful flight review and at that point the pilot is cleared for flight assuming they have also received a new medical.

The last element being currency in make and model is really not an impediment to flying, but rather a requirement for carrying passengers.  Technically speaking, a pilot can get a flight review in a single engine land airplane, even though they also have a multi-engine land rating on their license.  Where the currency becomes relevant is if the pilot who is considered current in single engine land wants to take passengers in the multi-engine airplane, then they must perform three landings in the last 90 days in the multi-engine airplane, and similarly, if the pilot wants to carry passengers at night then the landings must have been at night to full stop.

So there you have it. No written tests, no checkrides. Simply work at your own pace with an instructor until the skills return. I think you'll be surprised as to how fast they come back.  In general I've found that getting a pilot back to currency and getting a review done requires 1.5-2 hours of ground and 1.5-2 hours of flight per year they have been away from flying.  So, a pilot who has not flown in 10 years will probably require between 15-20 hours of instruction in ground and air to return to currency.

If you would like to learn more about recurrent training to get back into the air please contact us. We operated from Eagle County Regional Airport and service the areas of Eagle, Vail, Glenwood Springs, Gypsum, Edwards, Avon, Minturn.

Getting a Mountain Flying Lesson in Vail

For pilots visiting the Vail Valley, Mountain Flying is a great way to breakup the time.There are a tremendous number or great reasons to visit the Vail Valley.... whether summer or winter, there is always something to do.  Skiing, hiking, biking, golf, the list goes on and on.  While you're visiting here consider another great activity that's available year-round.  Flying!

For many of the pilots who visit find that a couple of mountain flights can be a great way to break up the vacation and do something different for a couple hours.

We operate from the Eagle County Regional Airport, but a single lesson we can visit Aspen, Telluride, Steamboat, or even Leadville.  Leadville of course earns you bragging rights - the highest paved airport in North America, with a pattern altitude above 10,000 feet!  We offer flight instruction and aircraft rental year-round.  Call 970-401-5105 to schedule.

Point your plane Due West, Aviation Fun in Western Colorado

Learning Mountain Flying in the Heart of the Colorado Rockies.  If you’ve ever wanted to learn the skills to be proficient to fly your own airplane in the Colorado Rockies then we can help. Alpine Flight Training specializes in mountain flying instruction in your own aircraft.

We use a variety of structured and unstructured scenarios to teach real world mountain flying by flying to and from many of the popular mountain airports in the Colorado Rockies and eastern Utah. With proper training, the mountains can be a safe and rewarding flight environment, use your plane for exactly what you dreamed of, flying to great destinations like Vail, Steamboat, Aspen, Santa Fe.

Whether you are a new student pilot or a seasoned flat-lander, let us show you the proper techniques for flying in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. We can even meet you at a front range or western slope airport to begin your training. Call today for more information. 970-401-5105